Plans are in place to complete a hat-trick of heavy-duty endurance races in 2016 after one of the North East’s toughest challenges enjoyed a successful second year.
More than 250 runners from across the globe descended on rural Northumberland for the second annual St Oswald’s Ultra, held at the end of September.
The gruelling event is fast gaining a reputation for pushing competitors to the limit, with just over half completing the 100-mile race.
“We stage three races within the St Oswald’s Ultra event, with runners able to tackle 50km, 100km and 100-mile distances,” explained organiser Phil Smith, of North East-based TRi. “This year, only 53 of the 100 people who entered the 100-mile race were able to complete it.
“There’s a 34-hour cut-off point for that one, and it proved to be a huge test for an incredibly strong field.
“However, the combination of a tough route and the chance to spend so much time in beautiful, rural Northumberland is too much to resist for those who appreciate a very personal challenge.”
The St Oswald’s Ultra follows the historic 97-mile St Oswald’s Way from Lindisfarne to Heavenfield, east of Wall in Northumberland.
Organisers extended the route to create the 100-mile event after identifying the perfect finish at the nearby village of Chollerford.
And competitors from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Scandinavia signed up to test their endurance against the elements.
Many runners used the opportunity to secure vital funds, and BCT Aspire targeted the event to launch its new fundraising arm.
The Teesside-based organisation entered a seven-strong team to raise money to support disadvantaged children in Billingham.
Founder Paul Burgum said: “We want to put a Duke of Edinburgh award scheme in place and need to bring in the money to do that.
“The St Oswald’s Ultra is such a friendly, inspirational event that we couldn’t think of a better place to start.
“There’s such a positive atmosphere, and there’s a great vibe and, of course, the incredible scenery.”
Dan Shrimpton won the 100-mile race in just under 19 hours, with Shirley Anderson the first female home.
Chris Warner and Julie Fewster crossed the line first in the 100km event, while exiled Briton John Pearson, now representing Australia, broke the 50km course record by more than 20 minutes to claim first place.
Kate Marriott was the first female home in the shortest event.
“John was on his way home from the World Elite Ultra Championships in Italy, where Australia won silver behind Britain,” said Smith.
“He put in a phenomenal performance and was representative of the quality and class throughout the field.”
The St Oswald’s Ultra starts at dawn with the 50km event finishing at the Jolly Fisherman pub in Craster.
The 100km field must reach Rothbury’s Tomlinson’s Bunkhouse, with the 100-mile runners targeting the George Hotel in Chollerford.
“We rely on the support of an army of volunteers and a number of friends along the way,” added Smith.
“Bertram’s Café in Warkworth provides food at its checkpoint, and the Northumberland Arms in Felton provides soup for the runners.
“The Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge plays a vital role, and Tomlinson’s puts on a party for the 100km finishers and those 100-mile runners passing through.
“There’s a real community feel about the event, and most of this year’s finishers are already asking about details for next year’s event.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase the county at its very best.”
of Northumberland and offer ultra runners the chance to experience something very different.”
To find out more about the St Oswalds Ultra visit www.stoswaldsultra.com or contact Phil Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org